I’ve been trying to make it to Mass every day since Ash Wednesday. So far, I’ve been successful, but today, it was so hard to get moving and make it on time. I’m glad I made the effort.
The gospel was taken from Matthew 6:7-15, which reads:
In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your father knows what you need before you ask him.
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
The priest, in his homily, focused on the last paragraph of this passage. He said these words were some of the most challenging in all of Scripture, and we should pay close attention to them. I think he was right.
The challenge is to forgive. If we don’t forgive others, we shouldn’t expect God to forgive us. Ouch. How many of us (including me) harbor unforgiveness? Maybe we’ve got something that we just can’t let go of.
I remember once speaking to a lady who told me a story of a betrayal done by one of her husband’s relatives. As we talked over dinner, the anger that came through her words led me to believe this was a fresh wound. It must have happened recently.
When she told me that the incident occurred over twenty years ago, I was shocked. This seemingly faithful person had been harboring this hatred towards another person for over two decades. She just couldn’t let it go.
Friends, use these days of Lent to be introspective. Are you carrying unforgiveness around with you, whether it be caused by something recent or so long ago you can’t remember the year it happened?
Yes, these words of Jesus are challenging. But the freedom that comes from forgiveness is worth the effort. For many people, the first person they have to forgive is themselves. Let it happen during this Holy Season of Lent. You won’t be sorry.